External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid scored a self-goal by saying that \"Pakistan has a lot of issues at home. I think the new government has a very, very difficult situation to handle. Our view is that we should give them time and benefit of doubt.\" He did qualify it by saying that it
\"shouldn\'t be at our cost, of course\".
Khurshid, always sure-footed with his oratory, rarely looks at official notes. These remarks, made to the The Australian newspaper, are not being
seen by the ministry as a clean chit to Pakistan.
The foreign minister\'s statement comes when assessments shared with his ministry and the Indian mission in Islamabad point to the fact that despite promises the Nawaz Sharif government has done little to stop terrorism against India.
Infiltration from Pakistan is at an all time high, and continued violations of the ceasefire along the Line of Control and the international border, which has cost several Indian soldiers their lives.
Worse, these statements come ahead of a meeting with Sharif\'s special representative Sartaz Aziz on the sidelines of the Asia Europe meeting in Gurgaon, where Khurshid\'s brief is to share his disappointment with the fact that despite assurances given to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in New York by Sharif, nothing has changed on the ground.
Instead of addressing India\'s concerns on terrorism and a speedy trial of those accused in the 26/11 attacks, Pakistan has again sought to internationalise the Kashmir issue and has cited inadequate evidence on the Mumbai attacks case to get away.
The Indian Foreign Minister\'s statement is likely to be used by Islamabad as a potent tool for its getaway strategy. Besides, the Sharif regime for long has been spinning a theory that non-state actors and elements not under its control are ratcheting up tensions against India and that they can do little to control it.
Now, with the confusion created by the Indian Foreign Minister it makes it easy for Pakistan. It also sends out a wrong message to India\'s soldiers
and security forces who are fighting the terrorist groups being sent from Pakistan.
Strangely, though these remarks may have been part of diplomatese ahead of talks with Pakistan\'s interlocutor, the context itself is not justified. Just after he landed in New Delhi, Aziz made good of the Indian hospitality to espouse the Kashmir cause by not only meeting the Hurriyat leaders but militant sympathisers like Asiya Andrabi.
He then ensured that he made a common cause on strategy for his meeting with the Indian foreign minister by meeting Chinese foreign minister Wang Li for over an hour on Sunday, before his meeting with Khurshid on Monday.
This is the first high-level contact between India and Pakistan after Prime Ministers Manmohan Singh and Nawaz Sharif met in New York in September.During the New York meeting, both leaders decided to ease tensions at the border that separates both countries.
Former Taliban ideologue in Goa
The report about a former Taliban ideologue Mullah Abdul Salam Zaeef\'s presence in Goa has raised quite a few eyebrows in New Delhi. Zaeef is one of the founding members of the terror outfit and a former close confidant of Taliban head Mullah
Sources say Zaeef had come to India for medical treatment from Dubai, and he was also issued a visa for the purpose.
Zaeef\'s memoir, My Life in the Taliban, traces his Taliban career as a civil servant and minister who negotiated with foreign oil companies as well as with Afghanistan\'s own resistance leader, Ahmed Shah Massoud.
After 9/11, Zaeef also served as Taliban\'s ambassador to Pakistan. He spent four and a half years in prison, including in Guantanamo, before
being released without having been tried or charged with any offence.
Since visas for those from Pakistan and Afghanistan are among some that require prior clearance, Zaeef\'s presence in a forum where even Finance Minister P. Chidambaram was present, raised the question if India was also engaging with the Taliban to ensure that it covers all flanks in the run-up to the transition in 2014 in Afghanistan when most foreign troops will leave the war-ravaged country.
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